A living will allows you or a loved one to speak even if you or they can no longer actually speak. Of all the issues in Elder Care Law (and in life planning in general), this area can be the most sensitive and complicated…and with good reason.

A living will is a written, legal document through which you or someone you love expresses your specific wishes for healthcare in the event you are no longer able to express them yourself. It lists out the kinds of medical treatments and life-prolonging measures you want (or don’t want) in certain circumstances. These treatments and measures may include tube feeding, resuscitation or mechanical breathing.

Medical technology and know-how allow us to keep people’s bodies alive (i.e., their heart and lungs working) even if their brains are no longer operating. While this is something to be celebrated from a scientific standpoint, it also certainly makes for some weighty issues to ponder and decisions to be made regarding what you want to be done with your body, when and under what circumstances.

The truth is, most of us don’t think a whole lot about the end of our lives when we are young. And even if we do, who knows if what we want right now is what we will want in 10, 20 or 30 (or more) years?

Regardless, it is important to think about our preferences and wishes so that our loved ones don’t have to guess and risk being wrong.